TRAVEL (Compass, 2011)
In 1492 what had only months before seemed an unlikely event, actually took place in Seville. Through the cobbled streets, Christopher Columbus on his triumphant return after his first voyage to the ‘Indies,’ paraded seven exotic-looking Indians who were accompanied by equally strange-looking green and yellow parrots. Imagine the confusion in the minds of these Indians as they walked through the city and the curiosity this spectacle had aroused among the people of Seville for at this time, Europeans knew little about the people of Africa and Asia, except through what they had read from the travel literature of the 15th century. We should remember however that these ‘Indians’ were not from India, the place which Columbus had set out to discover and mistakenly believed he had reached.
Fast forward almost five centuries to 1990 when I (the Grandson of an indentured labourer from India who had travelled to the West Indies to work on the sugar plantations) walked the streets of Seville on my way to deliver a Lecture at the University of Seville entitled: ‘Towards 1992: Discovery… and Minorities in Europe.’ I was born in Trinidad which was ‘discovered’ by Columbus on his third voyage to the New World, but I could not speak Spanish. Why?Therein lies a tale of the connection between language and Empire. Spanish Trinidad gave way to British Trinidad and so I migrated to the ‘Mother Country,’ as Britain was known. But as I became more knowledgeable about Queen Isabella, Columbus, Las Casas, Seville and Granada, I realised I was only partially educated for Britain and Spain were both important.
My first visit the year before my Lecture, had set in train, a growing desire to see and learn more about Spain. Thereafter, the idea of writing Isabella’s Legacy emerged, took hold and propelled me to travel through Andalusia and later to Catalunya.. Isabella’s Legacy is a unique book, a rare interweaving of travel, memoir, history, cultures and identities; a journey of surprises – stunning impressions, a meditation on world history and significantly on contemporary Europe. Above all, it is a narrative not only of my discovery of Spain which, in turn, has led to self-discovery, but also a book which will hopefully enlighten and enchant the reader.
Isabella’s Legacy Launch & Events
ISABELLAS LEGACY: My Discovery of Spain BOOK LAUNCH At Trinidad and Tobago High Commission in London
The Book Launch of Isabella’s Legacy: My Discovery of Spain was held at the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission in Belgrave Square, London on Friday 18th November. It was attended by many distinguished Guests, including the British Actor, Rudolph Walker.
Ron Ramdin, historian, biographer and novelist, and now travel writer, offers this candid, intimate and honest portrait of his travels in Spain. Following in the wake of Christopher Columbus, it is a voyage of discovery, a painstaking and insightful search for cultural roots that raises questions about cultural belonging and the effects of colonisation. It is also a tale of how personal friendships, chance meetings and casual acquaintances help the writer to explore and appreciate the land he so desired to know. Although the direct object of Ramdin’s musings is modern Spain (mainly Andalusia), his Trinidadian origins provide the anchor point and the historical pointers that help him to navigate large geographical expanses and over five hundred years of history. If Columbus failed to discover India, Isabella’s Legacy shows how a Caribbean West Indian was able to make his travels to Spain into a personal adventure that would help to shed light on the Columbus inheritance.
Dr. David Walton
Departamento de Filologia Inglesa,
Facultad de Letras,
Universidad de Murcia,
copyright © Ron Ramdin 2000 – 2021